What a roller-coaster of a year this has been. The highs have been exceptional, both on a personal and professional level, while the lows have been crushing, to say the least. But I’ve kept the faith, simply because there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than here with you, discussing our common love of movies. Heck, I even love talking about movies I don’t particularly love.
Although 2012 saw a marked improvement in the overall quality of cinematic output, there has been a whole slew of rubbish too. Which leads me to this. My annual takedown of movies that totally deserve it. Because when the people responsible don’t care enough to turn out half-decent work, why shouldn’t we have a little fun at their expense? At least we’re getting SOME kind of entertainment out of it. As a horror fan, it saddens me to note what a terrible year it’s been for the genre. Come to think of it, all the following entries qualify as horror, because it’s scary how soul-suckingly awful they are…
There are far worse things than to spend 90 minutes in the company of Guy Pearce, hamming it up as an action hero. Sadly, he is way too good for everything else that surrounds him in this el-cheapo sci-fi. From embarrassing visual effects, to wafer-thin plotting, to poorly-shot, tedious action scenes, this surely did not deserve its wide theatrical release. Unless the studio meant this as a tax write-off. Still, Guy’s gotta eat.
ROCK OF AGES
The makers of this dire stage-to-screen musical must’ve been experimenting with all-new ways to make Scientology-afflicted Tom Cruise even more UNappealing to today’s audiences. That experiment succeeded beyond their wildest dreams the moment he showed up as a preening rocker… in leather chaps exposing his bare ass. Oh, and then there’s Russell Brand being his usual annoying asshole self. Fun for the whole family!
10. WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING
This book adaptation sums up Hollywood’s current obsession with brand name filmmaking, and is little more than a cynical cash-in. I could’ve lumped “Battleship” into this category, but the difference is, that flick at least had some fun moments. Here, there’s hardly a laugh to be had. There’s just a by-the-numbers blankness running through it, and for a movie that’s about celebrating new life, it is virtually devoid of anything resembling a pulse.
9. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER
Speaking of lifeless, here’s one that was UNdead upon arrival (Hah, bad pun alert). Which is mind-boggling, really. I mean, how could you take a concept like this and make it so damned boring?? All I know is, director Timur Bekmambetov is severely overrated. As disposable as his earlier efforts like “Nightwatch” and “Wanted” were, they still were somewhat watchable. This one has crazy-ass stuff like Honest Abe surfing a stampede of burning cattle, and still manages to make you feel like you’ve seen it all before… and done much better elsewhere. Maybe it’s to do with the cartoony CGI and amateurish wire-assisted stunts. Or maybe it’s just a subpar director working off a woefully muddled script with actors he has no idea how to use.
8. THAT’S MY BOY
Adam Sandler thinks that paedophilia is a laughing matter. Because it’s the basis for his latest “comedy” where an obnoxious man-child (a Sandler specialty) tries to scam money off a son he fathered in high school. Fortunately, audiences around the world uniformly rejected this aggressively stupid turd, making it one of the biggest bombs of Sandler’s increasingly pathetic career. When Vanilla Ice is the best thing in your movie, you know there’s a serious problem.
7. SILENT HILL: REVELATION
The first “Silent Hill” was in my humble opinion the best videogame adaptation ever. That’s not saying a lot, considering the general quality of videogame adaptations. So let me praise it on its own merits. The film had a seriously creepy vibe, some outstanding visuals, and a deeply twisted heart. Everything this sequel lacks. The change in creative team really shows. Director Michael J. Bassett is handicapped by a truly rotten script, and when he adds his own clumsy touch, the experience promised by the movie’s marketing about it being “a ride through Hell” becomes absolutely spot-on. Only, Lucifer himself would probably rather watch an Adam Sandler flick while listening to “Ice Ice Baby” on a constant loop than suffer through this.
6. RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION
Well, this is admittedly better than Paul WS Anderson’s last crapfest “Resident Evil: Afterlife”. Though that’s like saying Adolf Hitler was a better vegetarian than Mahatma Gandhi. It doesn’t friggin’ matter. All the things that make this series so bad are resoundingly present. Ripping off every other popular movie of the last 2 decades? Check. Not even having the skill to pull it off properly? Check. Piss-poor acting, storytelling and action choreography? Check. What I find most annoying, more than any of Anderson’s resident shortcomings, are his delusions of grandeur. The guy genuinely believes he’s making epic films. The reality is, they’re just epic fails.
The frustrating thing about “Sinister” is that there was a pretty good horror film in there. It somehow got lost in a tangled mass of terrible writing and inexplicable story choices that made its characters unbearably stupid, even by the genre’s standards. This one deserves to be here because of the criminal waste of potential. It could’ve been a beacon of quality in a year where horror has either fallen short of expectations (“V/H/S”), or has been just plain forgettable. Instead, this movie’s ended up among the worst of the worst. Infuriating, insulting, and tragic.
4. THE THREE STOOGES
Looks like stupidity was a common theme for 2012. In the case of “The Three Stooges” however, that’s actually a selling point. So one cannot fault it for being goofy, dumb, even brain dead. The thing is, it’s not easy being silly. The original’s gags were deceptively clever and fresh (for their time), and the performances required split-second timing and cocksure delivery, making it all seem natural — and therefore funny. For this remake, writer-directors the Farrelly brothers were at face value the best people for the job as they clearly loved the material. As it turns out, they couldn’t have been more wrong for the job. While the 3 actors do their best to mimic the originals, it’s like we’re watching some nightmare version of the Stooges where everything about them feels artificial. The movie may get a few laughs in spite of itself, but by and large it is joyless and desperate. A little bit of the fan in me died after watching this.
3. FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON GATE
What the holy heck happened to Tsui Hark?? This is the guy who gave us kung fu classics like the “Once Upon A Time In China” saga, which made Jet Li a superstar in the process. If their latest re-teaming is any indication, both these guys are trying very hard to commit career suicide. Because this movie is atrocious. Its tone veers wildly, without any reason whatsoever, from overwrought melodrama to wacky comedy to serious actioner. Sometimes, all in the span of a few minutes. I can only hazard a theory that at some point during production, Hark got stoned, decided “Ah, fuckit” and proceeded to make the stoner version of a martial arts epic, complete with incomprehensible plotting and Looney Tunes-inspired visual effects, featuring Jet Li hopping around inside a giant cartoon tornado pretend-fighting a baddie who looks like he got his wardrobe from Cher and his acting lessons from the cast of “Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo”. If you think that sounds like fun, you’d be right… if your idea of fun is to have yourself dropped on your head repeatedly. Trust me, I have both as frames of reference.
2. HOLY MOTORS
Almost anything in the modern age can be labeled “art”. Tie two sticks together, fling some paint at it randomly, and you’ve got a Robert Rauschenberg piece. Film 8 hours of nothing but the Empire State Building and you’ve got an Andy Warhol original. Now, just because it can be called art, doesn’t mean it deserves to be called good. Or even remotely watchable. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Holy Motors”, a French film that for some reason beyond the grasp of my tiny, unevolved ape mind, has been deemed by several critics one of the year’s best films. To which my unevolved ape response would be: “Urrhh graarhh ugg! Nnhh nhh! Oooh ooh bobsaget nnhh uugg?!” Translated it means: “What?? Are you frickin’ kidding me?!” (Note: pronounced differently, it also means “Can you believe I haven’t sniffed my gonads yet today?!”). Or maybe, just MAYBE… there is nothing behind its supposed symbolism or its complete lack of narrative, that it’s not me, and this is in actual fact pretentious drivel of the worst kind masquerading as art — ie: a thoroughly shite movie.
1. CZ12 (CHINESE ZODIAC)
Perhaps you made it through “Holy Motors” and thought to yourself, “Hey, that wasn’t so bad. I kinda enjoyed the scene where the ugly midget ate Eva Mendes’ hair, dressed her in a gold Burqa, removed all his clothes to reveal a massive erection, then laid down on her lap while sprinkling flower petals all over his body. More indecipherable fun like that, please!”
If that’s the case, then boy oh boy, are you in for a treat. Because nothing, and I mean nothing comes close to the sheer, unadulterated retardedness that is Jackie Chan’s “CZ12”. How retarded is this ‘effing movie? Let me give you just a tiny taste. In one scene, a woman and her companion are attacked by a pirate. Without thinking, they whip out 4 human bones and use them to wallop the pirate. Suddenly the woman screams that the bones are of her “great grandfather”. Well, I guess in those days, people normally had four legs. Because all 4 bones are obviously femurs! How could I possibly not award the top spot to a movie this idiotic?
And it’s not even the main reason why this movie sucks so badly. The acting is worse than a porn flick’s, every attempt at humour either falls painfully flat or is irritatingly juvenile, and the movie insists on lecturing us about the evils of poaching China’s historical artifacts, repeatedly to the point of nausea. No one gives a shit, Jackie. Not when your all-important “message” is delivered under such intolerable circumstances. If this is to be his last action movie as he’s claimed, then he could not have picked a more inauspicious send-off. “CZ12” really is hands down, the absolute bottom of the barrel, and it’s disturbing to note that this is representative of mainstream Chinese Cinema today. Ugh.
Next: The Top 10 Best Films of 2012!